[Album Review] Love & Letter (Repackaged) (1st Studio & Repackaged Album) – Seventeen

For this week’s past album review (PARs), we will be focusing on Seventeen. The group has released three studio albums so far. And so far, I have only reviewed their two most recent ones, Teen, Age and An Ode. Today I review both their first studio album, Love & Letter, and their repackaged followup, Love & Letter (Repackaged). Both were released in 2016 respectively. Pretty U features as the title track of the first studio album, which earned the group their very first and second music show awards. The repackaged album features Very Nice, which is probably one of my favourite songs in KPOP ever. Also featuring on the album are unit versions of Adore U, Mansae and Shining Diamond, which are all promotional tracks prior to the release of this album. For this review, I have included all three songs in review as each unit spun them in a different way, creating three different and (to a degree) new songs. Let’s see what the albums has to offer.

1. No F.U.NNo F.U.N is a hip-hop dance track featuring tribal-like drums as the ‘main’ instrument piece in the instrumentation of the song. There is a bit more of the instrumental as well, such as short trumpet like sounds and what seems to be wooden sticks in the background. But like what the title of the song suggests, the song is not that much fun. In fact, I find it too serious sounding for my liking. It felt like so at the time of the album’s release and that the feeling somehow just has stuck with me over the years. Even with Seventeen now opting for more mature and serious sounding songs, I would find the song to be very bland and plain as it doesn’t offer that level of excitement that all Seventeen’s songs have. The rappers do shine in this song, but it definitely not a standout performance from the group. (6/10)

2. Very NICE (아주 NICE) (Title Track) – Once upon a time, I gave this song a 9/10 ranking. Over the years, I grown to really like every element of the song so much that it has become one of my most replayed songs of all time. It is only right that I give it a 10/10 rating now. Click here for the full review for Very NICE. (10/10)

3. Healing (힐링) – Following the very epic Very NICE is a very bright and fun Healing. While the song doesn’t technically continue the momentum of the title track of the repackaged album, there is a very upbeat and robustness to Healing’s instrumentation that feels just right in this song. The dynamic drums and strumming guitar come together to give off the strong summery vibes in which the song thrives on. The vocal work and rapping feels very energetic and is another factor why the song sounds so addictive. I find that this song is super powerful in the current times as I write this review, mainly because we all cannot travel and go on holiday in this physical distancing and isolation lifestyle we all now live. Overall, a great song. (8/10)

4. SIMPLE (Woozi Solo) – The next song is SIMPLE and it features Woozi, the leader of the vocal team. And it is my favourite side-track off the new songs added to the repackaged album. There is a really breezy melody that makes the song so enjoyable. The instrumental is also quite nice and soothing, despite it being quite upbeat. Instead of opting for a ballad styled song, Woozi uses a band sound that can be describe as more suitable for the youthfulness that the album pushes for and this gives off a more epic vibe. It also brings out Woozi’s voice, which we don’t often hear in the group releases as those tracks are often shared with 13 members. (9/10)

5. Space (끝이 안보여) Space features only a handful of the group, namely the Hip Hop unit of Seventeen (S.Coups, Wonwoo, Mingyu and Vernon) and also DK. I don’t much to say about this song other than it sounds like your standard pop song. There were good melodies in the song from all members who participated in the song, which helped make the song flow quite nicely. The rappers handled the verses well, while DK’s chorus was neat. The song just doesn’t really give me much to speak about, nor do I find it to be a memorable track on the album. (7/10)

6. Chuck (엄지척) – I remember Chuck to be the song which the group promoted alongside Pretty U. The song’s instrumental was very iconic, as it contrasted strongly with the album’s sweeter and almost cutesy tone. It was a mix between hip-hop and the cliché EDM of the time. Another aspect that I thought was strong was the chorus of the song. It also felt very iconic, though for a different reason at first. Based on the way it was paced, I was very surprised that they actually formed a proper sentence. It may sound a little ignorant, but I thought they were sounding out onomatopoeia vocabulary for the longest time, until I had that revelation. The combination that formed the chorus came out to be memorable and showed the members with a different sound (at the time), which they hadn’t attempted before. (8/10)

7. Pretty U (예쁘다) (Title Track) – My original review contain an overall rating of 7/10. Reading over my comment and my current thoughts about the song, I have decided to up the rating to a 9/10. Click here for the full review for Pretty U. (9/10)

8. Still Lonely (이놈의 인기)Still Lonely is the second track on the repackaged album to feature a handful of the members including Jun, Hoshi, Wonwoo, Woozi, DK, Vernon and Dino. The song appeals me to me as it still feels fresh. It does feature that generic pop sound once again, but it easily overshadowed with the random synths, small details in the instrumentation and the song’s memorable section. In my opinion, the song’s memorable moment has to be the pre-chorus. Hoshi and Dino’s pre-chorus delivery was filtered with autotune, which I thought contributed to an interesting texture and melody to the otherwise smooth pop song. (7.5/10)

9. Popular Song (유행가)Popular Song is more of a mix between pop and ballad, rather than just pop which the lyrics of the song keeps on referring to. It is a good song. Majority of the song takes the form of a ballad. The instrumentation is predominately piano-based and has this slow tempo, which are key characteristics of most ballads. But the chorus takes the song on a different route. It starts off with that ballad-like approach, but the second half of the chorus ups the tempo to be more a subdued pop track. I thought this was an interesting change up for the song, so it doesn’t fall into that too consistent category. The bridge brings an epic vibe to the song, which doesn’t necessary fit into any of the two sides of the song, hence incorporating another interesting change up the song. Overall, I thought it a nice track with some intriguing twists. (8/10)

10. Say Yes Say Yes is a ballad duet between DK and Seungkwan. It features no interesting changes, like in the preceding track. It stays in ballad mode for the entire four-minute span. I thought it was a really beautiful sounding ballad. It starts off as a piano based ballad, but it slowly incorporates classical instrumentation to help drive the song forward and create a pleasant atmosphere. No doubt complimenting the instrumentation is are the really soothing vocals of the two vocalists. My favourite moments is when they harmonise together, which caught my attention during my relisten in order to review the album. I just wished the melodies were a little more memorable, which would have made the song perfect. (9/10)

11. Drift Away (떠내려가) Drift Away features the remaining members who were not part of Still Lonely (S.Coups, Jeonghan, Joshua, Mingyu, The8 and Seungkwan). I thought this song was very pleasant. It is the type of song I would play to chill after a busy yet cheerful day. There is a feel-good vibe to the song, which I think will help serve the purpose of winding down after such a day. It features an instrumental predominately made of acoustic guitar amongst other instruments, which entering into the chorus really gave the song an upbeat appeal. Unlike Still Lonely, the highlight of Drift Away comes during the chorus, courtesy of The8. His section was undeniably the catchiest part of the song, in my opinion. (8/10)

12. Adore U (아낀다) (Vocal Team Version) Adore U was the group’s debut title track, for those who don’t know. Given Seventeen’s style, the song was a pop dance track. The vocals team (Woozi, Joshua, Jeonghan, DK and Seungkwan) put the song into ballad mode, which I think is very fitting for the unit. But it felt a little cliché as well. I did like how they didn’t make it into the type of ballad that is rather still. There is a flowy melody that gets you to sway along to the music, which makes the song enjoyable. I thought the bridge of this version was quite nice, with Jeonghan and Joshua’s breathy tone and DK’s beautiful high note. (8/10)

13. Mansae (만.세) (Hip-Hop Team Version) – The hip-hop unit’s rendition of Mansae, now Monday To Saturday, was probably the most interesting of the three. Both in theory and with what they ended up presenting us with. Aside from the familiar and main chorus hook of the original song, everything else is the song has changed. The lyrics, the melodies, everything. And I don’t feel too good about it. I am not saying that by changing the entire song, they didn’t hit the brief. I would be surprised if they didn’t change any of the lyrics, as that would result in something that finishes up quite quickly. I am just disappointed that in their rendition of Mansae, everything was oddly light and lacked energy. Their rapping was good, but it just felt bland over the light instrumentation. By far the weakest track on the album, in my opinion. (5/10)

14. Shining Diamond (Performance Team Version) – The Performance Team is more well known for their impressive choreographies. So, it comes with no surprises that their version of Shining Diamond was more of a remix that gave the song more of a dance influence. They do this by incorporating synths that we see common in EDM for dancers to do perform to. They remix vocals and the original instrumentation. Frankly, I would say this is cheating. But it works for the unit to make the song their own. Talking about vocals a moment ago, they retained some of the original vocals as well, allowing the unit to focus on what they do best. (8/10)

15. Love Letter (사랑쪽지) – We end the album with Love Letter, which was very easy to get into. It is a song for the fans and I thought it was a very sweet song to listen to. The melodies were very upbeat. I liked the percussion/clapping that featured as part of the chorus. It gave the song an interactive front, which I quite liked. Each member shined in this song. But it is undeniable that the main member in the limelight as result of the song is Wonwoo, who had his first (if I am not mistaken) vocal lines during the bridge. I feel like this was a great song to end the album with. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

Love & Letter (Repackage) Teaser Image

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